The Jaguar has always been a very authentic automobile which combines grace, space and pace. This was confirmed again by the timeless classic XK convertible we drove lately. It is a pure car, engineered for driving pleasure, combined with excellent creature comfort and ease of use. This roadster is build to be your favoured daily companion, on any (winding) road you may take it.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
That unmistakable Jaguar aura…
It pervades you the moment you step into the car, this unique “ambiance” of a Jaguar . Your hands gently touch the leather-covered steering wheel, and the luxury and grace of this beautiful car captures you. The comfortable leather seat wraps soothingly around your body.
You push the starting knob. With a smooth growl the 5 liter V8 jumps eagerly into life. When the engine is cold, it is kept at a higher idle, as a cat showing its teeth in a deep and purposeful grumble. The gear selector button on the beautifully big centre console is turned into D. One blip on the trottle, the engine revs up, and the Jag leaps smoothly forward. You are « en route ». Maybe to Le Mans, but more likely to the office or to a meeting in town. But it feels as if you are driving this thoroughbred out of the paddock on the famous circuit at Le Sarthe, on to the circuit with its fast bends and its very long straights. You are pushing the trottle deeper, and the XK accelerates with verve and grace on the motorway or boulevard, gathering swiftly higher speeds under the beautiful allegro howl of a high revving, modern V8.
Driving as it should (still) be…
The gearbox is tailored for thoroughbred driving, keeping the revs up at the slightest opening of the injection venturi’s, immediately choosing a lower gear when short feline sprints demand it. Of course, on long, fast motorway journeys you can activate the cruise control with the easy intuitive controls on the steering wheel, but it is accelerating away from the péage controls or escaping from the traffic « melée » with a short burst of speed which made you buy this car in the first place. Do not expect impressive consumption figures under these driving conditions. The sheer power and the weight of the car (kerb weight of some 1660 kg) and its agility invite you to a spirited driving style. But physical laws of energy want to be obeyed, despite the excellent thermal efficiency of the 5 litre engine with its double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder.
The new 5 litre “Generation III” engine includes also state of the art solutions like spray-guided direct injection (SGDI), which improves performance and economy, and dual independent variable cam timing (DIVCT).
The charge cooling effects of the direct-injection fuel system have allowed the compression ratio of the naturally aspirated engine to be raised to 11.5:1.
Getaway is of course in the supercar league, with a 0 to 100 figure if a mere 5.6 seconds. The XK will sprint from 50 to 70 miles in about the time it needs to read this sentence, notably in just 2.5 seconds. When motorway traffic builds up, it is just this eagerness in acceleration which is always is a joy to use when rapidly regaining the chosen cruising speed, under the most beautiful exhaust howl.
The electronically controlled, six-speed ZF 6HP28 transmission offers a combination of driver control matched to virtually undetectable gearshifts. The box can be controlled either from steering wheel-mounted paddles or driven in full automatic mode via the JaguarDrive Selector. With the round selector knob, you can also select the “Sports” mode, which lets the box choose lower gears to keep the engine revving between 3000 and 6000 rpm to make optimum use of the available engine power.
Of course, on motorways the car cruises with utmost stability up to very high speeds indeed, being electronically limited to a top speed op 250 kph.
With a maximum power of 385 hp or 283 kW at not less than 6500 rpm and with maximum torque of 515 Nm at 3500 rpm one immediately understands that this engine needs to be revved to enjoy its growling power. This brings us to a consumption of some 17 litres/100 km in city driving conditions, which drops of course dramatically under constant speed, with only 8 litres per 100 km being clocked on open country roads, driving smoothly and enjoying the typical V8 throb at low revs.
Creature comfort and driving safety
The heating and audio controls are intuitive and a pleasure to use...
Your eyes can now admire the beautiful styling of dashboard and dials, the excellent finish and noble materials. Of course, on motorways the car cruises with utmost stability up to very high speeds indeed, being electronically limited to a top speed op 250 kph.
We also were impressed by the convertible’s triple-lined fabric roof, which gives a level of fit and stability, even at very high speeds, that minimises wind noise and other road noise and includes a luxurious interior finish almost indistinguishable from a fixed roof. Our test car, the XK Portfolio version, featured luxurious Suedecloth headlinings as standard.
The handling of the car is very predictable, the steering is sensitive and adds to the agile feeling of the car, which indeed corners as if on rails. Electronic driving assistance systems are of course at hand keep you out of trouble in difficult driving conditions.
The Dynamic Stability Control system for the XK range has bespoke tuning and offers four driver-selectable modes, Normal, Winter, Trac DSC and DSC OFF on all models.
Normal mode is ideal for everyday driving and is the default setting activated automatically on starting. The Winter mode is designed to improve drivability and confidence in more slippery conditions. Trac DSC mode is a sportier setting allowing the experienced driver fully to exploit the car’s performance and enjoy greater involvement in controlling it.
DSC OFF allows the driver (where circumstances are appropriate) to switch the system’s electronic protection off completely, by pushing the DSC control button for 10 seconds.
The audio system with B & W speakers was a joy to the ear...
What we again liked very much on this thoroughbred Jaguar is its ease of use, with all controls being intuitive to use and reach. One can concentrate on the traffic and enjoy the beautiful sound of the sound system, it is just the car to put on Morning Heavy Song from Bobo Stenson, from ECM records, (the disc title is :RarumVIII), and we can assure you, it is pure joy. You can sip after your evening ride a good whisky or cognac, and listen to it all over once again…
The seats are very comfortable, easy to adjust, and needless to say that even on long motorway journeys, there is not the slightest hint of driving fatigue.
A classic thoroughbred to enjoy and cherish…
Our conclusion can be very simple: this is a car to own, enjoy end cherish, and pass it, like a good watch, over to (your) next generation(s). The timeless styling and tasteful interior and choice of materials will make this car into a classic, together with its eager, growling engine, its feline power, comfortable ride and excellent, predictable handling. Many other cars will come, but a car like this XK Convertible will always have a very special place in our car loving hearts.
Hans Knol ten Bensel